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Making a Decision

You have an offer. Now what?

Review the information below to get started. OCS staff are available to discuss any or all parts of the job offer decision-making process. While we cannot give you the answer as to whether the job is right for you, our career advisors are able to help guide you through the offer process, providing questions to ask, factors to consider, etc.




  • Accept an offer because:
    • It’s a great fit for you (NOT because it’s your “only option,” you “just want to be done,” someone else is telling you to take it, you feel pressure because “everyone else” is going in a certain direction, etc.)
    • The position and organization align with your interests and skills
    • You’re excited to learn about the career field and gain experience through this opportunity
  • If you don’t think an opportunity is a good fit for you, but it’s your “only option” right now, talk to us. You’ve worked very hard and have a lot to offer. Honor yourself, your passions and dreams. There is still plenty of time to find a role about which you will be excited!
  • If you have multiple offers, please contact the ones that are lowest on your list today to withdraw yourself so they can extend offers to other students.
  • Review/create your pro and con lists and apply weights to the aspects that are most important to you to help make the decision. HINT: It’s about more than the salary, location, and role. Consider personal strengths, personal work preferences and styles, work culture, etc.

Understand the Job and the Offer

Review your written offer letter closely. If there are any aspects of the job offer and the work assignment of which you are uncertain, now is the time for clarification. You may call or email your contact to discuss any of your questions. For example, you might like to know:


  • How long you have to make a decision about accepting or declining the offer*
  • When you're expected to report for work e.g. start date, hours
  • How long you'll be at a particular location
  • Who your supervisor will be
  • When salary/performance reviews occur, etc.


*Requesting an extension

If you think you'll need more time to decide on a job offer, ask for it as soon as possible. Suggest a specific date by which you can let the employer know your decision, and then follow up as you indicated; do not delay by even a day. Any employer that has a relationship with the university should follow these policies.

Understand Your Compensation Package

In addition to your base salary, your offer may include some of the following financial considerations:


  • Relocation stipend
  • Signing bonus
  • Vacation time
  • Health and other insurance coverage
  • Education benefits
  • Spousal assistance
  • Stock options
  • Performance-based compensation


Not all offers are created equal. Think about what is important for you and your situation.


Resources for Salary Benchmarking

  • Kiplinger's: Provides salary information by job category and location. Also has "Cost of Living Wizard" and "Job Assessor."

  • NACE Salary Calculator: Salary data for more than 500 occupations in 560 regions of the United States that is updated monthly. Searchable by occupation, state, region, education level, and years of work experience.

  • PayScale: Whether you're evaluating a new job offer, thinking it's time to ask for a raise or just trying to figure out how your current salary stacks up, PayScale helps you find the answers you need. Our dynamic survey asks about the specifics of your job, focusing on the compensable factors that our team has determined affect your pay, and only takes minutes to complete.

Offer Negotiation

If you decide that you need to request additional or different compensation, do your homework first. You can't expect to negotiate a salary "just because." You need to have justifiable reasons for requesting a modification, and this means you must be prepared to:


  • cite postgraduate information for mean and median salaries of graduates from the ILR School;
  • cite mean and median salaries from national survey information and know the cost of living estimates  for the area where you're assigned; and
  • discuss your experiences and education that are above and beyond the "average" graduating student, especially as they relate to the particular job for which you're negotiating.

Accepting, Declining, and Reneging

It's a good idea to notify the hiring manager of your decision to accept an offer by telephone, and then follow up with a written confirmation of your acceptance. A verbal accept is binding. Once you've accepted an offer, don't look back!


Notify all other employers you've been talking with of your decision, and cease all job-search activity at this point. It is not ethical behavior to continue negotiating with other employers or to renege on an offer after you've accepted a job.  If you believe you will want to keep looking even after you accept the role, that is a key indicator that you should NOT accept the position. Talk with a career advisor before you accept.


Keep in mind Cornell University’s recruiting policies. Your actions reflect not only on you, but on our office, the ILR School, and the Cornell community. Taking a job to which you are not fully committed prevents your peers from landing an opportunity in which they may have been truly interested.


If you decide not to accept an offer, be sure to express your great appreciation for the opportunity that was extended to you. Explain why another offer you've received (or another career step you're taking) better matches your needs or desires at this point. Keep the door open for the future, and stay in touch.